PONTIAC, Michigan (Reuters) — General
Motors Co <GM.N> on Wednesday announced a new generation of
efficient small engines that it says will power 27 models in 64
countries by the 2017 model year.
The automaker said it was attempting to streamline production with a
modular architecture of the 1-to-1.5-liter, 3- to 4-cylinder engines
that will allow them to be adapted to varying needs in different
Among the first models with the new engines, to begin production by
summer, will be the Chevrolet Cruze designed specifically for the
Chinese market and the Opel Adam in Europe.
GM is calling the new line of 11 engines "Ecotec" and will build
them in five plants on three continents.
By 2017, the company will build 2.5 million of the Ecotec engines
for use by five different brands, or about 25 percent of the
vehicles the company will build.
"We did not calculate the savings but it's definitely substantial"
in engineering and manufacturing, said Tom Sutter, global chief
engineer of Ecotec engines.
Steve Kiefer, vice president for global powertrain engineering, said
he believes GM's key global competitors will not match the 2.5
million in annual production for a single "family" of engines by
Sutter said the new engines replace three engine "families" at GM
but would not disclose which ones.
"Scale does matter, so I would say that our intention is that this
would put us at the front of scale, therefore economics,
cost-effectiveness," while not sacrificing in terms of lower noise
and vibrations, said Kiefer.
The compact Cruze sedan built for China launches later this year
with a 2015 model that will have 1.4-liter turbocharged and
1.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engines. The Adam to be
sold in Europe will have a 1-liter turbocharged three-cylinder
All of the engines will run on regular unleaded gasoline, and in
some European markets also on compressed natural gas and liquefied
petroleum gas, and 100-percent ethanol in Brazil.
The 1.4-liter turbocharged engine will be up to 5 percent more
efficient than the one it replaces, GM said. The new Cruze 1.4-liter
engine will be 44 pounds (20 kg) lighter than the engine it
replaces, which Sutter said was a representative weight savings for
most of the new line of engines.
Much of the weight savings is attributed to the increased use of
aluminum in the new engines, said Sutter.
The engines will produce from 75 horsepower (56 kilowatts) to 165
horsepower (123 kW), for use in models from minicars to mid-sized
cars and crossovers, said Kiefer.
The engines will be built at one new plant, in Shenyang in China,
and four existing plants, at Flint, Michigan in the United States;
Toluca in Mexico; Szentgotthard in Hungary; and Changwon in South
GM will spend $200 million to upgrade the Flint factory, but has not
yet disclosed investments at the other plants.
Kiefer said GM, in a seven-year stretch ending in 2017, will have
spent about $1 billion on global powertrain plants and design and
Diesel will remain another engine type, but can be built at some of
the same plants, including the one in Hungary, said Mattias Alt,
Ecotec chief engineer for GM in Europe.
All of the engines will have the capability to use the fuel-saving,
so-called "stop-start" process in which the engine shuts down when
the vehicle is at traffic lights or otherwise stationary for short
periods of time. Stop-start will be a standard feature on the new
Cruze in China.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Tom Brown)